Trump, free of civility 'shackles,' bashes Paul Ryan, others
Former vice-president Al Gore told supporters that Trump could lead to a 'climate catastrophe'
The "shackles" of civility gone, Donald Trump stepped up his fierce attacks on his own party leaders Tuesday, promising to teach Republicans who oppose him a lesson and fight for the presidency "the way I want to."
Exactly four weeks before Election Day and with his campaign floundering, the businessman reverted to the combative, divisive strategy that propelled him to victory in the GOP primary: Attack every critic — including fellow Republicans.
Those close to Trump suggested it was "open season" on every detractor, regardless of party.
"It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to," Trump said in a tweet that brought new concern — near panic in some cases — to a party trying to stave off an all-out civil war before Nov. 8.
In another series of tweets, the Republican nominee called House Speaker Paul Ryan "weak and ineffective," Sen. John McCain "very foul-mouthed," and "disloyal" Republicans "far more difficult than Crooked Hillary."
The very foul mouthed Sen. John McCain begged for my support during his primary (I gave, he won), then dropped me over locker room remarks!—@realDonaldTrump
Disloyal R's are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary. They come at you from all sides. They don’t know how to win - I will teach them!—@realDonaldTrump
His rage against fellow Republicans exposed a party slipping from mere feuding into verbal warfare with advance voting already underway in roughly half the states. Polls suggest Trump is headed toward a loss of historic proportions if he doesn't turn things around.
His scorched-earth approach, days after his sexual predatory language caught on tape triggered a mass Republican defection, threatened to alienate even more supporters.
"Fighting for the sake of fighting is not really very helpful," said former Trump adviser Barry Bennett.
'I don't want his support'
In an interview with Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, Trump said he doesn't expect to lose the election over the tapes.
In the same interview, he also said he wasn't concerned about the loss of Paul Ryan's support.
"I don't want his support, I don't care about his support," Trump said. "I wouldn't want to be in a foxhole with a lot of these people that I can tell you, including Ryan. By the way, including Ryan, especially Ryan."
Trump has acknowledged the possibility of defeat in recent days, but he tried to shift the blame Tuesday for his struggles on Republican defections and an election system that may be "rigged" against him.
On Monday, he warned of potential voter fraud in heavily African-American Philadelphia, a claim for which there is no evidence but one that could challenge Americans' faith in a fair democratic process.
At the same time, Trump's campaign is considering whether to feature Bill Clinton accusers at his upcoming rallies. Trump shocked the political world before Sunday's debate by appearing with several women who had accused the former president of sexual impropriety decades earlier.
The aggressive shift is in line with the philosophy of recently hired campaign official Steve Bannon, whose conservative website has long fuelled attacks on Republican leaders and perpetuated popular conservative conspiracy theories. Bannon is now leading the campaign's messaging.
The approach has done little to endear Trump to anxious party leaders. At least 40 Republican senators and congressmen have revoked their support for the embattled Republican nominee — with nearly 30 of them urging him to quit the race altogether.
Even some longtime supporters are contemplating walking away.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he was still grappling with Trump's comments from the video, calling them "indefensible." He said he still supported Trump "at this point" but was thinking about that.
Yet Trump's aggressive shift is popular among his most loyal supporters who continue to flock to his rallies by the thousands.
DON'T LET HER FOOL US AGAIN. <a href="https://t.co/3QSoADFh7S">pic.twitter.com/3QSoADFh7S</a>—@realDonaldTrump
While Trump devoted much of his fire to fellow Republicans on Tuesday, he did not ignore his Democratic opponent.
His campaign released a new ad that focuses on Clinton's recent bout with pneumonia. The ad features images of masked gunmen and nuclear weapons as a sick Clinton stumbles toward a vehicle.
"Hillary Clinton doesn't have the fortitude, strength or stamina to lead in our world," the narrator declares.
Gore with Clinton on climate change
While Trump planned his next attack strategy, Clinton was talking climate change with former vice-president Al Gore in Miami.
She called him "one of the world's foremost leaders on climate change."
Clinton stressed her plans to develop clean energy and reduce fossil fuel production. She argued that Trump doesn't share her views, noting that he has called climate change a "hoax."
She told the crowd that she wants to make the U.S. the world leader in clean energy, install 500 million more solar panels by the end of her first term and generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America within the decade.
We cannot risk putting a climate denier in the White House at all.- Hillary Clinton
"We cannot risk putting a climate denier in the White House at all," Clinton said. "It's absolutely unacceptable."
Clinton's push on the environment and climate change could help her connect with young voters, who prioritize the issue. Millennial voters have not warmed to Clinton's candidacy.
Gore, whose 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth focused on global warming, said Clinton "will make solving the climate crisis a top national priority."
In contrast, he said Trump, "based on the ideas he has presented, would take us toward a climate catastrophe."
Gore, used the Florida campaign stop to remind the crowd that he is "Exhibit A" that every vote counts in presidential elections. It's the state at the centre of the recount effort that cost him the 2000 election.
Watch The Choice 2016 on the Passionate Eye on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 10 p.m. ET and PT on CBC News Network for new insights into Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and why they both want one of the most difficult jobs imaginable.
With files from CBC News and Reuters